Land and Society in Colonial Mexico: The Great Hacienda

Land and Society in Colonial Mexico: The Great Hacienda

Land and Society in Colonial Mexico: The Great Hacienda

Land and Society in Colonial Mexico: The Great Hacienda

Excerpt

A seventeenth-century Mexican, no matter how great his interest in his country's growth, would almost certainly have been surprised at the subject of this book. The landed estates of New Spain, for all that, were taking shape before his eyes, and while the phenomenon may have escaped his attention entirely, it is easy for us, a few centuries later, to see that it was destined to dominate the history of Mexico.

From time to time, to be sure, a missionary, a jurist, or an observant traveler would mention the great estates, but always with reference to some occurrence: an injustice done by a powerful landowner, usually to natives, or the seizing of lands and mines by people who neither tilled nor worked them, with resultant losses of revenue for His Majesty. So far as we know, before the second third of the eighteenth century, when the Bourbon dynasty had already left its mark, there are no references made to the great estates as such. Indeed, there was little concern for economic and social problems of any sort, save for practical everyday considerations or remarks by passing travelers, mostly for-

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